In the House of Lords, the Neighbourhood Planning Bill has undergone its third reading with members approving an amendment that obliges examiners to give information to/meetings with neighbourhood planning groups.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (the parliamentary under-secretary of state, Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office) conveyed amendment 1.
It was said by Bourne that within regulations for the amendment, the secretary of state, is permitted to explain the procedure an examiner of a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order must follow.
He said the following:
“In exercising the power, the secretary of state will be able to make regulations that place a duty on examiners to provide information to, and to hold meetings with, neighbourhood planning groups – the qualifying bodies – local planning authorities and others, and on the examiners to publish their draft report with their recommendations,”
Bourne continued to explain that among enabling reforms that can improve the dialogue between neighbourhood planning groups and examiners while allowing for any future procedures to be informed through the consultation on the housing white paper by those who will understand best how the current arrangements are working in practice, the amendment “strikes the right balance”.
Bourne stated in relation to amendment 5 that it is pursuing the duplication of the changes suggested in amendment 1.
This concerns positions such as if a neighbourhood planning group is looking to modernize an existing neighbourhood plan in the “streamlined way proposed under clause 3 and schedule 1 to the bill”.
“This will ensure consistency for those examining a new or updated neighbourhood plan.”
Nemours members such as Baroness Cumberlege and Lord Shipley have expressed that they are in favor of amendments 1 and 5.
It has been suggested by Lord Taylor of Goss Moor that amendment 2 is aimed at empowering local government communities to bring forward settlements of;
“the highest quality ensuring that the value that comes from development taking place is captured to create great places and deliver wonderful facilities for those places and is not captured in excessive profits for landowners or developers”.
Amendment 2 is also looking to ensure the government’s objectives regarding advancing the garden villages, garden town and garden cities program are seen, as well as ensuring opportunities for small builders.
It has been explained by Taylor that presently the secretary of state receives most of the power from the New Towns Act due to it coming from a period when the government was more involved in local delivery.
Taylor has said that the Secretary of State:
“has no capacity to hand over the role of the corporations that will be set up to deliver these new settlements to the local councils that would bring them forward”.
“The principle of the amendment is to give the secretary of state the power to appoint one or more local authorities in the designated area of the new town to oversee the delivery of the new town and the new development corporation.
“This is a localising measure. It hands really strong power to communities to ensure that new towns are delivered at quality,”
The secondary regulations would display the functions that are anticipated to be shifted to local authorities.
The amendment was “entirely consistent” with the aim of the bill, said Bourne.
Bourne also said that he and the government were in full support of the amendment.
The amendment along with amendment 4, was agreed while amendment 3 was withdrawn.
During the session, the bill was passed by the House of Lords and will now go back to the Commons with the amendments.
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